It all started with some acid reflux which was nothing new for me. I usually drink one sachet of Gaviscon and the discomfort goes away. But this was different. After a few sachets, it was still there. I didn’t mind until I felt the sharp pain on my right flank. It was a blessing also that I constantly talked to a friend who happened to have a niece who was a doctor. So, it was really convenient to have a consultation. So, she suspected indigestion based on my statement, but after 4 days another pain occurred, so i called her again and told me that if it was indigestion, I should be well on the 3rd day, she asked me to get the whole abdomen ultrasound. I was suspecting that this had something to do with my gallbladder.
Honestly, I didn’t wanna do the test at first, because first,I didn’t want to expose myself outside and second, no one will stay with my kids. But I did the right thing. I asked Mama to come and proceeded with the ultrasound. While the procedure was being done, we noticed that the doctor annotated the image with the word “mass”. At the end of it, she explained the result and recommended a CT scan. That did not sound good.
I was afraid and I cried but at the same time I still felt okay physically, mentally, and spiritually. Although I became anxious occasionally, generally I felt fine and calm.
The next few days went by quickly. We consulted with a doctor and also got a second opinion. Both recommended a CT scan and mentioned that it would likely be followed by an operation to remove part of the kidney or worst case to remove the whole kidney. The first doctor told us that this could possibly be cancer. Remember when I said I was calm? That’s true I was really calm because there was something between me and God that comforted me. It was also the first time that I felt sad not because of the diagnosis but because I saw my mom cry because of the situation. She got scared.
I had the CT Scan and some other tests. At this point in time I was asking God to give me a miracle. (like that the CT scan would show that the mass was not there anymore. We got the results – it was still there. We were referred to a uro-onco-surgeon who told me that we needed to have my right kidney removed. He assured me that I will be fine. He was slightly bothered about some findings in one of the liver sections but he said he was not convinced it metastasized but we still needed to have it checked so that he could remove it if needed. What a relief. At that moment, I was more scared of going through a swab test than the operation.
We went to the hospital to be admitted. My fear of being put to sleep and not knowing if I would still wake up came to mind. I had to call and get an assurance from my doctor that I would still wake up. He said yes and he kinda laughed at me so I felt better. It was at this point that I felt sad for the second time. I told God and myself that I don’t want this to ever happen again. The girls at home were sad and were crying because they could not hug me over a video call. (They cannot sleep without me beside them). I realized that it was so unfair for them to feel this way. They were suffering the consequences of what was happening to me. I also thought of the pain that Jett is masking and the worry and the fear that he must have been keeping to himself. (I was like that when my Papa was battling his sickness.) I do not want the people that I treasure most to be suffering because of me.
The big day came. Early during the day, I had an ultrasound and some other procedure done to check if the spot on the liver was a mass too. But Mama Mary worked on this. The doctors said it was nothing and probably just focal fat. Such great news to hear at the start of the day.
At the scheduled time (12 noon), I was brought to the operating room. I remember the anesthesiologists asked about my last name and if it was mine or I married. He was also from Negros and he was teasing and asking me about the vast haciendas these Gamboas owned. I guess he was just calming me. He was still talking and he put something over my nose and asked me to inhale and exhale. The next thing I knew it was already 3 in the afternoon and I was in the recovery room. My 2 experiences waking up in a recovery room prior to this were exciting moments because I was looking forward to seeing my 2 babies. This time I woke up in awe and very grateful and looking forward to living a brand new life. I did not even mind that I lost one kidney.
The operation was done. My doctor went to Jett and showed him pictures of the kidney that was taken out. He said that based on what it looked like, it was Stage 1 to Stage 2. It was out now and it was an answered prayer. I remember that it was on a Thursday that we confirmed that we really needed to have the operation. That night as we prayed the rosary, we talked about the second luminous mystery where Mama Mary asked Jesus to perform his first miracle. We asked Mama Mary to ask her Son to heal me. Our prayers were answered..
Welcome Anne version 2.0.
Remember that time I was asking God for a miracle to make the mass disappear? I know that did not happen because I had to go through a process that would help me realize many things. Good things.
First, This experience was a prayer answered and revealed to me the authenticity of the people around me. Earlier this year I had this nagging thought about it. Also, I learned who my true friends are and I felt the love from my “village”.
Second, Next to God and our health and well-being, the relationships we form with our people are important. I am touched by all the people around me who helped. From family and friends who became my prayer warriors, the nurse who was a friend of Jett’s tito who assured us that everything that was needed for the operation was in place, to family and friends who helped look for blood donors, friends who brought food, and everyone who sent their well-wishes. I felt God’s love through these people. Throughout this experience, God has constantly assured me that I have enough prayer warriors.
Third, that we really have to love and appreciate our body. Our body is God’s temple and we honor him by taking good care of it. Taking care of it does not just mean the physical aspect. We also take care of it by always choosing to be happy and by forgiving others.
I have to take care of my chakras – the concentrated energy centers of our body. They have to be balanced and well. When the chakra is disrupted and damaged, it can cause several problems in our lives including physical, emotional health, and our mental state.
Fourth, It has been said many times that “Health is Wealth”. We’ve always said this to the kids but this time it is not just someone else’s story that we are sharing. This experience will always help us remember. As much as it is for us, it is also a message for our extended family to take of themselves always.
Fifth, there were times when I was afraid (getting the tests done, not waking up after the operation) and Jett reminded me of the story of Jesus walking on the water. In that story, Jesus invited Peter to go down from the boat and walk on the water and go to Him. He calls on us to walk on the water even if we are surrounded by a storm and are afraid. There is nothing to fear because He is always with us and just like Jesus was waiting for Peter, He is always there waiting and will never leave us. Fear will always be there and might make us sink but as long as we fix our gaze on Him we will prevail.
Sixth, Mama Mary is another hero in our story. She has always been with us and has always answered our prayers everytime we ask her.
Seventh, our angels are always active around us. Throughout this process I have been constantly assured by the angelic signs that I keep seeing around me. They were always there to comfort me.
I told God even before the procedure that I will tell this beautiful story. It took me a week before I was able to do it. I was afraid that this might just become entertainment to other people. But then I realized that this story is not about me. This is about God and that I am so blessed to be able to tell His story that I was a part of. Our family, especially our kids, often read about the miracles found in the Bible. It is a surreal experience to be part of a miracle. To be part of a story that we can share with other people.
Even before this happened, the Anne version 1.0 life was generally good. I am very much aware of the many blessings I have in my life. I am really grateful which is why I want to share our blessings in any way I can.
The greatest blessing that I have ever received – Anne version 2.0 – will definitely be better. I feel like I am renewed. This is my second life and I really want to start clean. I have forgiven people who have done wrong to me (this has forever been my issue – I don’t know if I never forgive or I never forget).
I have learned my lessons from Anne version 1.0, This time I will just let go and let God. I will be wiser. Wiser in choosing my battles. Wiser in choosing my friends. Wiser in choosing who the people I want to be in my life. Wiser in the food that I eat. Wiser in choosing happiness over any form of negativity. I will celebrate small wins, be generous in giving affirmations, and learn to say no.
Life is short. Let’s not waste a single minute. Share your blessings. We are blessed to bless others. God is faithful. He will never leave us.